By Ellson Quismorio
Malacañang should look into the alleged attempt to monopolize the procurement of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines or PCVs, ACT-CIS Party-List Rep. Nina Taduran said on Sunday.
“The general rule should be public bidding unless there is a compelling reason to veer away from it and opt for a different procurement process,” said Taduran, a former journalist.
The lady lawmaker was referring to an incident last November when it was learned that the PCV tender was limited to only one supplier despite the pronouncement of global vaccine authorities that the two available vaccines have the same effect in preventing the disease.
As a result, different sectors prodded the Department of Health (DOH) to ensure open and competitive bidding as far as the child anti-pneumonia vaccine is concerned. To its credit, the DOH decided to postpone the bidding pending the review of the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) on the PCV tender.
However, Taduran wants to find out why there was only one bidder allowed during previously scheduled bidding for the crucial drug. “I believe President Duterte should look into it,” she said.
The procurement of PCVs has been allocated a budget of P4.9 billion, a juicy amount by any standard.
In comparison, the controversial anti-dengue fever inoculation campaign during the previous administration was worth around P3 billion.
Earlier this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) reaffirmed an earlier position saying that the two available PCVs–dubbed PCV10 and PCV13– were equally effective in preventing overall pneumococcal diseases in children.
WHO also stated that there was, at present, insufficient evidence of a difference in the net impact of the two available PCVs on overall disease burden.
It was 2017 when, after a systematic literature review, the WHO stated, “There is at present no evidence of different net impact on overall disease burden between the two products.”
Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines president, Dr. Anna Ong Lim earlier said that the Philippines is among the top 15 countries in the world as far as pneumonia deaths are concerned.
Pneumonia is the top child killer in the country among kids aged five years old and below, according to reports.
The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) has reported that, globally, cases of pneumococcal pneumonia have decreased by more than a third from 2000 to 2015 following the introduction of the PCVs in many countries.
Deaths due to pneumococcal infections fell by 51 percent during the same period.
ACT-CIS was the top vote-getter in the party-list race during the midterm elections earlier this year.